A New Jolicloud Later This Year

Last night a tweet popped up in my Twitter stream from the official Jolicloud account.
"A new Jolicloud is coming this fall, register for the beta:"

Of course the first thing I did was head over to and register. The Jolicloud homepage is now openly inviting users to register for the beta of the service.

I registered and updated the details of which platforms I use and will be using Jolicloud on, and that was it! Easy Peasy! (No pun towards the Ubuntu Netbook derivative intended...)

So as I continue to use Jolicloud through the web browser on my Desktop/Laptop machine, and as an OS on  a partition of my netbook, I'm looking forward to seeing what Tariq Krim and the rest of the clever people working on Jolicloud are going to come up with.
You can read more about Jolicloud 1.2 here. As usual, feel free to leave comments and/or questions at the end of this post. If you liked and/or found this post useful, please also Google +1 it. 

Joli OS' Teaser

I was browsing through my feeds in Joli OS earlier and I came across what to me seems like a teaser on the official Joli OS Blog.
In the blog post entitled "Some News About Joli OS" dated July 19th 2011 the opening is quite a teaser:

"It’s been a while since you’ve had an update from us but we’ve been working hard on something big. We will tell you a bit about that very soon! In the meantime, we have some updates for you on Joli OS."

The blog post then goes on to list the updates that are currently being pushed to the Joli OS local and web apps.

The post is then closed by another teaser:

Stay tuned… More coming soon!

Could this be a teaser to Jolicloud 1.3? Or maybe even a shift in platform from the older Ubuntu Netbook base to a Chromium OS base? Tariq has never been shy of praising Chrome and the Chromium and Jolicloud is available as a web app in the Chrome Web Store. This is pure conjecture on my part. I am excited, and  look forward to seeing what happens "soon"!

Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal - Unity

On April 28th 2011 the latest version of my most used Linux distribution was released. Version 11.04 of Ubuntu, also known as Natty Narwhal, has brought some major changes to how the main Ubuntu distribution works and in the forms it is available in.

We bid farewell to Ubuntu Netbook Edition. There is now simply Ubuntu (available in 32bit and 64bit versions) and Ubuntu Server (available in 32bit and 64bit vesions). In a way I am sad to see the Netbook Edition cease to be. Ever since the early days of netbooks I had been running Ubuntu Netbook Remixes on a first generation Acer Aspire One and on my trusty EEE PC 900A. As time went by both the interface and the features evolved as a branch of the Ubuntu Desktop Edition, experimenting with new user interfaces and optimisations for smaller screens. Interestingly many of the developments that were experimented with in Ubuntu Netbook Remixes and Editions are now features of the unified Ubuntu.

In Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal the Unity Interface (first used in Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook Edition) is the default one. Unity is powerful desktop and netbook environment that brings consistency and elegance to the Ubuntu experience.

Unity is designed for netbooks and related touch-based devices. It includes a new panel and application launcher that makes it fast and easy to access preferred applications, such as the browser, while removing screen elements that are rarely used in mobile and netbook computing.

Unity has a vertical task management panel on the left-hand side and a menu panel at the top of the screen. Using a sidebar for task management conserves vertical screen space, which is much more valuable on a widescreen netbook. The task panel displays icons for commonly-used applications and programs that are currently running. Clicking on an icon will give the target application focus if it is already running or launch it if it is not already running. If you click the icon of an application that already has focus, Unity will activate an Expose-style view of all the open windows associated with that application.
I really am enjoying using Ubuntu with the Unity interface. I must admit that from October last year I was quite skeptical about the shift from a Gnome interface, but now that I am used to the sidebar, the instant search services and notifications I am won over. As well as the UI changes Ubuntu 11.04 brings the usual boatload of bug fixes, more hardware support and faster boot times.
You can download and try out Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal from for free.
Feel free to leave any comments and/or questions.

Three MiFi - Freedom Is Easy

Last week I travelled from Edinburgh to Prestwick Airport by means of public transport. Along the way I took my trusty Asus EEE PC 900A netbook a Three UK MiFi as well as the rest of the luggage I was taking to Italy for my spring holiday.
On a train, using my netbbok and MiFi
My netbook is currently running a beta release of Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal. This version of Ubuntu has drivers built in to use all the most popular mobile broadband dongles and usually there is no need to load additional software to use them. I have tested my netbook with my Three UK mobile broadband dongle and with my T-Mobile one (both are made by ZTE but run on different chipsets).

For this trip, I was not going to be taking any dongles to connect to mobile broadband though. Recently I won a competition organised by Three UK and was sent a Three MiFi device. The MiFi is a portable WiFi hotspot, that lets up to five WiFi devices connect to mobile broadband through it.

The MiFi is great if you are travelling and using a netbook on the go. Rather than have a dongle sticking out of the side of your netbook, you can have the MiFi in a pocket and use WiFi to connect to the internet through it. I can think of three main advantages of this:

  • Not having a dongle sticking out of the side of your netbook reduces the risk of accidentally damaging both your netbook and/or dongle. Think about it - if your netbook were to slip/fall or lean on the dongle, leverage could damage both the dongle and the netbook's usb port. (I have had this happen to me once... RIP Acer Aspire One ZG5)
  • Using a MiFi your netbook's bettery life should be better. This is because your netbook is not powering the USB device that is connecting to the mobile broadband, you are just using WiFi. The MiFi is powered by its own internal battery, and recharges using a standard Micro-USB connector. This is useful to me because both my mobile phones use the same charger format, so when away (as I am now) I only need to take one charger with me for three devices.
  • You can connect up to five devices to the MiFi at once. I did connect more than one device while sitting in the Costa coffee bar in Glasgow Central Station. Both my netbook and my HTC Desire were using the MiFi while I was using Gwibber and downloading a podcast to listen to on my flight. I didn't really perceive any slower network connection while doing so.
Having a hot chocolate, using the MiFi and netbook as well as my HTC Desire.
When I got my first broadband dongle and was using it on Linux (at the time Ubuntu 9.04 and Mint) I had to add drivers and go through a long set up process to make it work properly. This was usually quite a hassle, but was made  relatively easy for me thanks to posts by Liam Green-Hughes on his blog. Those days seem to be gone with Ubuntu 11.04 as dongle support is much better. To tell the truth I wish that back in the day I had had a MiFi. Messing around in terminal windows and adding repositories was fun, but a MiFi would have made life so much easier.
I used the MiFi for most of the trip while I was in the UK (on buses, trains, in stations and airports) and had no problems with reception along the way.  I was happily able to use my netbook and still had enough battery life to watch a couple of episodes of Mostly Photo on the flight.

I'm currently in Italy enjoying the spring weather and time with my family.

Just a quick disclosure at the end of the post: I did not pay for my Three UK MiFi device or the mobile broadband sim card with 12 Gb of data on it. This was my competition prize and I was not remunerated by Three UK or any other entity for writing this post. Hopefully this disclaimer avoids any Mike Arrington incidents...

Please feel free to leave questions/comments. Any feedback is appreciated!

Joli OS 1.2

During the last week Tariq Krim announced the changes happening with Jolicloud, the Ubuntu-based Linux operating system.

The Jolicloud OS has now been renamed Joli OS, and has been updated to version 1.2. Joli OS 1.2 has a newer user interface with various tweaks, the facility to create your own web application launchers and seamless Dropbox integration in the OS. You can read about the changes in Joli OS 1.2 in the blog post here.

I was prompted to update my system this morning and did so. The update ran in the background while I continued using my trusty Asus EEE PC 900A for my usual web browsing, social networking (using Seesmic Web) and news reading (using Google Reader).

After the update finished, I restarted my netbook and I was in Joli OS 1.2. The login page is slightly different, there are a few new wallpapers and it generally feels shinier.

Well done to Tariq and the rest of the Jolicloud / Joli OS team! I'm enjoying Joli OS 1.2!

You can download Joli OS 1.2 from here. Enjoy!

Please feel free to post comments/questions on this article.

How To Get WiFi Working On A Dell Mini 1018 [Ubuntu]

I recently had a problem setting up a netbook with Ubuntu 10.10 Linux for a relative.

Installing Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat Netbook Edition wasn't a problem, and everything worked fine except for wireless networking. Trawling through Dell and Ubuntu forums to find the solution was tough, but I eventually got to the bottom of it.

Before I go any further, I must underline a few details: 
  • the Dell Mini 1018 netbook was purchased in the UK
  • the wireless card uses Realtek drivers (not Broadcom ones)
  • solving the problem involves a small amount of terminal use
I'll assume you have installed Ubuntu on your machine and have plugged it into a router to gain internet access. (Without internet access this tutorial won't work). 

Before starting please update Ubuntu using the Update Manager.

Step One: Open A Terminal Window

Open a Terminal window (usually found in "Accessories" or "Applications")

Step Two: 

Copy and paste the following text into the command prompt:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:lexical/hwe-wireless

You will be prompted to enter your "root" or "administrator" password. Go ahead and wait for the terminal gobbledygook takes you back to a command prompt.

Step Three:

Copy and paste the following text into the command prompt:

sudo apt-get update

Again, you may be prompted to enter your "root" or "administrator" password. As in the previous step, go ahead and wait for the terminal gobbledygook takes you back to a command prompt.

Step Four:

Now, copy and paste this last bit of text into the command prompt:

sudo apt-get install rtl8192ce-dkms

Again, you may be prompted to enter your "root" or "administrator" password. As in the previous step, go ahead. You might be prompted to confirm that you want to install a file. enter "Y" on your keyboard and then hit "Enter" on your keyboard. Now wait for the terminal gobbledygook takes you back to a command prompt.

Last Step (Hopefully): Restart Ubuntu

Now all you have to do is restart your computer and Wireless Networking should be working fine.

Thanks go to Keng-Yü Lin who provided the repository and did all the hard work to make this possible in a relatively pain free manner (, and the friendly people at the Ubuntu Forums.

Google Chrome OS Is On The Way

Google Chrome OS is on its way according to "Industry Insiders".

Google Chrome OS is a Linux based operating system aimed to be used exclusively with web applications and has not been released yet.

If "Industry Insiders" are to be believed, the first devices running the OS will be available on the market before Christmas this year (December 2010). It is also reported on the interwebs that Google may be launching an own branded device manufactured by a third party company.

I'm looking forward to this development in the consumer electronics market, hopefully with an interestingly priced device (£100 / $150).

Here's to hoping...

Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat Netbook Edition

On the 10th of October 2010 (10-10-10 Get it?) Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat was released for desktop, server and netbook.

Since this version of Ubuntu has been in Beta, I've been using it both on my desktop computer and on my netbook (an ASUS EEE PC 900A). The improvements since the Beta version have been noticeable to me, mainly in speed and stability of the user interface.

The new user interface on the Netbook Edition, called Unity, has a fixed dock and is completely different to the one from previous versions of Ubuntu Netbook Edition. After getting used to it, I find it more responsive and lighter on my netbook than the previous versions of Ubuntu Netbook Edition too.

As usual, you can download Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat Netbook Edition for free from On the download page, there are also easy step by step instructions on how to set up a bootable USB flash drive. The bootable USB flash drive is particularly useful if you want to just try out Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook Edition without installing it. If you then decide you would like to install it, there is also an option to do that.

The installation process has been simplified, and makes setting up a dual-boot system much easier. Setting up a dual-boot system is the best way to have both Windows and Ubuntu on the same machine, giving you the option to choose between operating systems when you turn the computer on.

Overall I think this is a great netbook operating system once you get used to it.

Feel free to comment and let me know your views on Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat.